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What are the signs of labour?

May 27, 2020

Having more knowledge about the signs of labour will help you to have a better birth experience.


How do you know when labour is starting?

There are many ways that labour can begin. You may have a show (lose your mucus plug), you may have diarrhoea, your waters may break or contractions may just begin with cramps and/or back pain.

In early labor you may like to try to rest and use a hot water bottle, heat pack or have a warm shower. Resting in the early stages will help you have more energy as labour progresses.


How do you know when you’re in labour?

When contractions get stronger and longer and more frequent, you know that you’re in labour. In active labour, contractions are around 3-5 minutes apart.

You might like to try:

  • Changing positions (hands and knees are great!)
  • Movement like spiralling on a birth ball
  • Try breathing techniques and/or vocalising


What is transition?

Transition is the time around 8-10cm dilation. Although it’s usually the shortest part of labour, it can feel quite intense and bring up a lot of feelings. Many people get to this point and feel like they can’t go on or can't do it anymore. Contractions can feel like they’re on top of each other with no end in sight. But soon, you’ll be ‘complete’ or 10cm dilated and you’ll feel an urge to push.


What is helpful during transition?

Having someone reassure you that you're doing really well and that baby is actually close. If you were thinking about birthing in water now would be a good time to get in the pool.  Water can be extremely soothing.


How do you know when to push in labour?

Once the cervix has dilated to ten centimetres you’ll most likely get an urge to push. Some people have a small break in contractions also known as the ‘rest and be thankful’ phase so they can gather their energy before pushing.

I really encourage you to follow your instincts with when and how to push. If you need some reassurance, you can ask your midwife or doula for more guidance.

Once your baby is born, it’s good to have immediate skin-to-skin contact. This helps your baby regulate their breathing, heart rate and temperature. It also boosts your oxytocin levels which will help you safely birth the placenta.





Do you want to feel more confident about birth?

Download this free natural birth checklist that covers practical tips and natural suggestions for the three stages of labor. Start feeling more confident about your birth plan.


Learn the 3 keys to LOVING your birth and beyond. You can implement them today!